The committee of the Old Church Centre, Cushendun, is delighted to launch its autumn and winter programme with an exciting range of culture and heritage events extending across September’s Culture Month.

Immediately prior to that, visitors and residents will have their annual opportunity to enjoy the popular Book Sale, now re-located to the Bank Holiday weekend and running in Glenmona House from Saturday 26 to Monday 28 August. The usual array of titles, fiction and non-fiction, will be on sale, and refreshments will provide sustenance while readers deliberate about their choices.

Culture Month itself begins on Saturday 2 September, when Jude McNeill of Turais Chois Abhann Doinne will lead a walk around the enchanting locations which inspired the many writers and artists associated with Cushendun.

This year sees the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic Good Friday Agreement, and the weekend of Friday 8 to Sunday 10 September has been chosen to mark that important date. Friday sees the launch of artist Raymond Watson’s compelling Hands of History exhibition, a sculpture which features bronze casts of the hands of the nine party political leaders who negotiated the Agreement. On Friday evening, Raymond will talk about the work’s creation and continuing significance; the exhibition will continue throughout the weekend.

The committee is delighted to have secured some very distinguished speakers for a panel discussion on the impact of the Agreement since its inception. This will take place on Saturday afternoon, with contributors Eamonn Maillie, Bronagh Hinds, Anna Mercer, Linda Ervine and Michael Boyd. Demand for this event is likely to be high, so early booking is advisable.

Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September are also European Open Heritage Days, when the Old Church is traditionally open to all who wish to visit, with volunteers on hand to advise and inform.

The following weekend, 15-16 September, sees a move to the world of creative composition, musical and literary. On Friday evening, John Spillane makes a welcome return to our stage, where he will appear in concert, with his highly-acclaimed and distinctive blend of music, poetry and story-telling.

Saturday 16 will be a bonanza weekend for readers and aspiring writers. The committee is delighted that Damian Gorman, long-term former resident of Cushendun and a particularly warm, vibrant and distinguished presence on the literary scene, has agreed to lead a creative writing workshop on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, the committee will welcome with great pleasure the internationally-acclaimed poet Medbh McGuckian and Dr Sophia Hillan, academic, novelist and writer of short stories. Friends for longer than either of them would probably care to remember, Medbh and Sophia will read from their own work and will then engage in recollections about the Seamus Heaney years at Queen’s, where they were students and friends of the Nobel Laureate.

The final weekend of Culture Month sees a miscellany of events. On Saturday 23, the Old Church Centre will host a Talk and Taste walk and workshop culminating in a session of apple-pressing with a real hand-turned apple press. How very Thomas Hardy! That evening, members of the Ulster Orchestra will perform for us, with pieces from their repertoire for small string ensemble. On the afternoon of Saturday 24, Oonagh from Blooms by Oons will give a flower arranging demonstration, in the course of which she will discuss her traditional growing methods.

To bring the festival to a close, and ten years after her first visit to Cushendun, Victoria Geelan will appear in concert on Saturday 30 September for a joyous evening of jazz and soul.

The Old Church Centre gratefully acknowledges Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for funding Culture Month, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding the Centre.

Bookings can be made online by visiting the Culture Month section of our website by clicking here.

Our full programme can be downloaded by clicking here.